12/14/2011 04:21 EST | Updated 12/22/2011 02:33 EST

Holiday Online Shopping: Tips From Afiya Francisco On How To Take Advantage Of The Internet


We spend our days on Twitter, Facebook and on online news sites (ahem, like The Huffington Post -- thanks for being a reader), so in these final days of the holiday shopping season, why not take advantage of the Internet? You can get gifts mailed to your door, supply the sites you shop at with feedback and, most importantly, you can avoid overly-packed malls.

But because the online universe is also a vast abyss of website after website, and it's hard to keep a handle on what you've ordered or what you're shopping for, we wanted to arm you with some expert online buying advice.

We chatted with Afiya Francisco the former fashion editor of Canada's shopping magazine, Lou Lou. Here are her top five tips to last-minute holiday buying online.

Shop With Purpose. "Try not to act impulsively. It's easy to get swept up in deals and the excitement of an online purchase. Go in knowing what you want."

Spend Time "Just Looking" Before You Shop. "Planning ahead will save you time, anxiety and money. Planning ahead will also help you stay on-budget. A great thing to keep in mind is, if you plan ahead, you can spend time looking online for daily deals. Do your research online and purchase when it makes sense (price is good, ample delivery time, good return policy, etc.)."

Pay Attention To Comments And Ratings. "I love visitor comments and ratings. If you're stumped for a gift idea you may walk away with suggestions that would never have occurred to you before."

Track The Price History Of An Item.Bing has a very useful tool that highlights the price history of a particular item -- [giving] you a good indication as to whether you're getting the best value or not."

Figure Out The Exact Purchase Total Before Clicking Buy. "Again, Bing spells out for you whether you'll save shopping cross-border or [whether] shopping within the county [is best] -- it considers duties and taxes."

It's important to note you should holiday shop online early enough to give your gifts enough time to ship to you or your giftees. Canada Post's deadline for shipping by regular mail has already passed, but if you use Xpresspost (aka: super-fast shipping), you can order and ship parcels until December 21.

If you're an online shopping expert and have another tip for us, let us know on Twitter.

Photo gallery Our Five Favourite Online Shopping Sites See Gallery